Fortinbras

FORTINBRAS
by Lee Blessing
Fortinbras

 

God, what is all this? You can*t keep something like this quiet. Captain, why don*t you take these, um — bodies (Indicates the bodies.) and put them someplace safe for now, ok?Is everyone dead? The whole family, I mean? Two families?! No one*s left? Of the whole royal —? They all just kill— each other, or what? Say, who*s in charge now, anyway? I mean, who can understand all this stuff? So, what you’re telling me is a ghost appears to Hamlet and tells him his uncle killed his father, so Hamlet pretends to go crazy — or maybe he really is, who cares? and he decides to kill his uncle. But he stalls around for a long time instead, kills a guy who*s not his uncle, gets sent to England, gets rescued by pirates, comes back and kills everybody — including himself. I mean, come on. Horatio, we*ve got to have a new story. You want to tell everyone in Denmark that their entire royal family killed itself, plus a family of reasonably innocent nobles, plus two attendant lords? Good God, Horatio — how much do you think people can take? No one wants to hear their whole royal family*s incompetent. Personally, I think we should just replace the whole story. We need a story that*ll do something for us: explain the bodies, preserve the monarchy, give the people some kind of focus for all their — I don*t know — anger, loss, whatever. And most of all, something that*ll show people that everything that*s happened up till now had to happen so that I could become king. I know how I*d like to explain it. A Polish spy. It*s the perfect idea. Look — the Poles, bitter at Claudius*s pact with my uncle to grant me and my troops free passage through Denmark so that I can kick their Polish butts, send a spy to the court here in Elsinore. His job is to destroy the entire Danish royal family. You know, as a lesson to all who would conspire against the Polish crown — all that crap. Anyhow, he successfully sabotages the fencing match, bares the swordtip, poisons the weapon, the wine — see how easy this is, all one guy — sets the unsuspecting participants against each other in a sort of frenzy of sudden rage and paranoia, and executes the most extraordinary mass-regicide in the history of Europe. And we can even add a lot of stuff about the horror when the royal Danes, each mortally wounded and/or poisoned, suddenly realized that Poland had achieved its ultimate revenge blah, blah, blah. You don’t think it will be believed, Horatio? I bet it will be. It*s just so much better. Anyone can understand it. And the best thing is, it gives me that historical reason-for-being that*s so important to a new king. You see? I*m here to save Denmark from an imminent attack by Poland. (Horatio looks incredibly dubious.) Of course, if you want to tell people that ridiculous story of yours, be my guest. But I*ll bet mine*s the one that catches on. (He winks conspiratorially)

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